March 2010 - Issue 18

March 2010 - Issue 18

Rural Medical Training

in the cool Highlands with other doctors from the PNG Rural Medical Society. We were on a course on Surgical Care in the District Hospital - a good level for me, as a non specialist doctor who gets called upon to do all kinds of things.

Maggie was one PNG doctor who deeply impressed me. She graduated about 2 years ago, and is now the only doctor at a rural hospital far from here. This is her picture. She is a single, city girl, from near Port Moresby, who had never cooked on an open fire before. Now she's living in the bush, three days walk from anywhere and only an airstrip with no regular flights. She accepted the job after a “chance” meeting with the hospital manager and a free trip to look at the place. She was struck by the plight of the patients in the ward and answered the call of God. She is now resurrecting the hospital that has been without a doctor for 15 years or so since the missionary doctor died. The stories she tells of what she has to deal with, like doing an emergency leg amputation last year!

Maggie is a trainee on the Masters in Rural Medicine(MMed) programme, now in its third year of running in PNG. I also met the other five trainees on this course, and heard how it is helping them in their work in isolated settings. They are based at one rural hospital for the 4-6 year course, but spend three months of each year in another district hospital supervised by a specialist. It's a full-on course with many assignments and a logbook, sitting a Part 1 exam in obstetrics or surgery, as well as training on such things as management, and solar power and radio maintenance!

The reason I'm going into so much detail about MMed, is that it offers a real way forward for Rumginae. How wonderful it would be to have national doctors here, for a real sustainable health system. There are donors willing to sponsor trainees, and it means there is a career pathway and support available for doctors in the bush. On a practical level, we would need more staff housing first. I am also wondering if the MMed course is something God wants me to do, to be a better doctor and enable me to eventually supervise others and increase the numbers of rural doctors. Please join me in praying about this.

Half of the PNG health system is church-run although government funded, like ours. I don't think it‘s a coincidence that all of us who met together are involved in Church-run hospitals. It's not just that the person who started the society and MMed training is a missionary. In the rural areas, the church-run hospitals provide the bulk of the care. With the challenges of rural medicine, who else but Christians will have the desire and ability to serve in the bush with the love of God and community of believers. I appreciate seeing the legacy that the early missionaries have left in terms of infrastructure and the mission hospitals. However there is still a long way to go before even basic health care is available to people in many rural areas.

From Sharon Brandon

Mougulu Visit

Rumginae's health service includes other remote health centres and aid posts. I recently flew out to Mougulu Health Centre for a few days to encourage the staff and see patients. I was struck by the staffs' diligence despite their inexperience- but also surprised by the much poorer health of the population, even compared to Rumginae. Pray God will encourage Gideon, Mary and Jerome in their work for Him.

Prayer Points

  • Praise God for the many missionaries that have served in word and deed in PNG

  • Praise God that the course and meeting other doctors has helped me in my confidence at work

  • Patient J____, who was incontinent of urine after a long labour, now has no
    leaking urine and didn't need another operation.Praise God

  • We are having some problems with passive staff. Pray they will take their
    responsibilities seriously - and I will learn to lead too

  • Addy's likely away for meetings for a week at the end of March. May God
    supply all my needs as the only doctor
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